• My favourite blogs from 2014

    Today is my last working day of the year.  In a fit of indulgence, I have selected my favourite blogs from the year - one from each month. 

    It's been quite a year. 

    This time last year, we did not know that tidal surges and the worst winter rainfall on record would have such a dramatic impact on our natural landscapes and affect the policy landscape especially regarding farming in floodplains and the relative merits…

    • 23 Dec 2014
  • In praise of Sir John Randall MP, Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip

    Yesterday, Sir John Randall MP, longstanding Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and birder, made his last contribution in a Christmas Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons.  Sir John is standing down at the next election and will be sorely missed.  As demonstrated by his participation in last week's Rally for Nature, he remains a loyal supporter of the RSPB and its mission.  When in opposition, he was…

    • 19 Dec 2014
  • 125 years and counting

    For many (but alas not me), today will be the last working day of the year, so it feels appropriate to offer a mini review.

    2014 has marked the RSPB's 125th anniversary.  We have not made much of a fanfare about this - we've kept the bunting in the cupboard.  Yet, anniversaries do make you reflect and it is good for the soul to be reminded of what the RSPB has achieved in its history.   Our past successes give us…

    • 19 Dec 2014
  • Where to invest and where to make cuts: a spotlight on Northern Ireland

    Either side of the 2010 election, over 350,000 people signed our Letter to the Future (here).  This called on politicians to consider the health of the planet when making big decisions about where to make cuts and where to invest.  At the time, few anticipated the scale of the cuts in public spending that would follow and, while efficiency savings have been found, this has inevitably thwarted political ambitions to protect…

    • 18 Dec 2014
  • Communities, unsustainable development and nature - some lessons from politicians

    In the run up to Christmas, we can expect quite a few announcements and reports published.  Today, MPs on the Communities and Local Government Select Committee released their report on the Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework.

    It’s a good report, which makes some positive recommendations to strengthen the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  Many of you will remember that the NPPF had a very difficult…

    • 16 Dec 2014
  • Recipe for success: the story of the Bittern's recovery

    The recovery of the Bittern from 11 booming males in 1997 to 140 today did not happen by magic.  It's a great conservation story that some people now take for granted.  But, before I did my interview with the Today programme this morning (which I assume will appear here at some stage), I reflected on what has made the conservation story so successful.

    1. The law: unfashionable as it may be to say it, when the Bittern…

    • 15 Dec 2014
  • On mission: in conversation with Charles Moore, columnist at the Daily Telegraph

    Earlier today, I had a cordial conversation with Daily Telegraph columnist and former editor Charles Moore. While much of the discussion focused on issues relating to shooting and birds of prey, during the discussion – in preparation for his column – Charles sought my response to the suggestion that the RSPB may be losing its way or indeed support.

    That was surprising especially given that we have more members…

    • 13 Dec 2014
  • Target practice for carbon: guest blog from Sarah Alsbury, Environmental Manager at the RSPB

    This weekend, negotiators from across the world will be concluding the latest set of climate change talks in Lima.  We wish them well as they seek to lay the foundations for a fair, ambitious and binding deal at next year's crucial summit in Paris.   There is huge support for a shift to a low Carbon future and the UK even has legal targets to achieve this.  The RSPB has also been playing its part as the business tries…

    • 12 Dec 2014
  • Rallying for nature

    400 people who love and care about wildlife will (with a squirrel called Bob) take part in a rally in London today.  They will come from all parts of England and will visit the House of Commons to urge their MP to include strong commitments to nature in their 2015 election manifestos.  The event is being organised by the RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, the League Against Cruel Sports (90 years old this year - happy birthday!), and…

    • 9 Dec 2014
  • Flooding in Focus

    This weekend marks the anniversary of last year's tidal surge.  This was the start of four months of extreme weather resulting in severe flood events which had a devastating impact across the country.  

    Flood waters caused millions of pounds of damage and in some cases destroyed homes, businesses and infrastructure.  And the RSPB found itself on the frontline experiencing damage to some of our reserves but also in terms…

    • 7 Dec 2014
  • Nature is in the red too

    Just a day after the Chancellor announced the latest plans for addressing the economic deficit the Government published (to substantially less media coverage) the latest progress reports on biodiversity indicators.   

    There are lots of indicators - there are those for the UK and those for England .

    Whilst some of the indicators are going in the right direction, too many, particularly those reflecting the state of our sites…

    • 5 Dec 2014
  • More ecological austerity in the Chancellor's autumn statement?

    The RSPB is lucky enough to employ three economists.  And they like nothing better than trawling through autumn and spring budget statements.  The fun begins after the Chancellor sits down as that is when the detail is published online.

    Here are a five things that the team has picked out...

    ...Public spending outlook remains dire.  Since 2010, government departments have seen their budgets cut by an average of approximately…

    • 4 Dec 2014
  • A preview of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement

    At lunchtime tomorrow, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his final Autumn Statement of this parliament.  

    We know quite a lot already...

    ...£2.3 billion of existing flood defence money will be allocated to 1400 schemes.

    ...£15 billion will be allocated to road improvements

    ...a boost to housing and the creation of a new garden town at Bicester

    ...the deficit reduction plan will take longer than…

    • 3 Dec 2014